The work positions the facility, known as Pier 6, to remain the largest and fastest coal transload facility in the northern hemisphere, NS officials said in a prepared statement. The facility transfers coal hauled by train from Appalachian coal fields to ships bound for markets worldwide.
The $18 million upgrade, which was completed on schedule over a 90-day period beginning in August, involved major overhauls of the facility's dumper system and two loaders. The dumper system transfers coal from rail cars to a conveyor system. NS plans to upgrade a south set of dumpers in spring 2013.
"This investment reflects our belief in the long-term prospects for the global coal market and Norfolk Southern's continuing pivotal role in that market," said Danny Smith, NS' senior vice president of energy and property.
The most recent upgrades coincide with the 50th anniversary of Pier 6, which began operations on one loader in December 1962. NS plans to hold an anniversary celebration in April 2013 for the second loader, which came online in spring 1963.
Pier 6 features an annual throughput capacity of 36 million tons of coal and can handle up to 8,000 tons of coal per hour. In January, Pier 6 loaded a record 159,941 net tons of coal onto a ship bound for China.
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